Passing Through Corinth with Pausanias

 Book 2.2-3


“Within the Corinthian lands there is the place called the Kromyon after Poseidon’s son Kromos. There is where men claim that sow called Phaia was nourished (she was one of Theseus’ deeds). When I was there, pine forest was growing along the shore where one would find the altar of Melicertes. The story is that a dolphin carried a boy to that place and that after Sisyphus found him lying there, he buried him on the Isthmus and established the Isthmian games in his honor.

This is near the start of the Isthmus where Sinis the brigand used to grab pine trees and pull them to the ground. He took all the men he overcame in battle, bound them to the tree, and let it go again. After that, the pine trees would draw the bound man toward itself, but since the binding did not give way in either direction, the victim was split in two, tearing on both sides. Sinis suffered this same death himself thanks to Theseus.”

Theseus Sinis
Theseus and Sinis, by the Elpinikos Painter


τῆς δὲ Κορινθίας ἐστὶ γῆς καὶ ὁ καλούμενος Κρομυὼν ἀπὸ [τοῦ] Κρόμου τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος. ἐνταῦθα τραφῆναί φασι <Φαιὰν>, καὶ τῶν λεγομένων Θησέως καὶ τὸ ἐς τὴν <ὗν> ταύτην ἐστὶν ἔργον. προϊοῦσι δὲ ἡ πίτυς ἄχρι γε ἐμοῦ πεφύκει παρὰ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν καὶ Μελικέρτου βωμὸς ἦν. ἐς τοῦτον τὸν τόπον ἐκκομισθῆναι τὸν παῖδα ὑπὸ δελφῖνος λέγουσι· κειμένῳ δὲ ἐπιτυχόντα Σίσυφον θάψαι τε ἐν τῷ ἰσθμῷ καὶ τὸν ἀγῶνα ἐπ’ αὐτῷ ποιῆσαι τῶν ᾿Ισθμίων. ἔστι δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἰσθμοῦ τῆς ἀρχῆς, ἔνθα ὁ λῃστὴς Σίνις λαμβανόμενος πιτύων ἦγεν ἐς τὸ κάτω σφᾶς· ὁπόσων δὲ μάχῃ κρατήσειεν, ἀπ’ αὐτῶν δήσας ἀφῆκεν ἂν τὰ δένδρα ἄνω φέρεσθαι· ἐνταῦθα ἑκατέρα τῶν πιτύων τὸν δεθέντα ἐφ’ αὑτὴν εἷλκε, καὶ τοῦ δεσμοῦ μηδετέρωσε εἴκοντος ἀλλ’ ἀμφοτέρωθεν ἐπ’ ἴσης βιαζομένου διεσπᾶτο ὁ δεδεμένος. τοιούτῳ διεφθάρη τρόπῳ καὶ αὐτὸς ὑπὸ Θησέως ὁ Σίνις·

The Refined and the Rude: Velleius on Cultivated Generals

Velleius Paterculus, History of Rome 1.13.3

“The generals had different habits and different interests. Scipio was certainly such a refined admirer and supporter of the liberal arts and any kind of learning that he kept two exceptional minds with him at home and in the field, Polybius and Panaetius. No one ever took leave from work with a more cultivated use of his leisure than Scipio—and neither has anyone pursued the arts always in war and peace alike. Dedicated always to arms and arts, he either exercised his body with dangers or his mind with studying. Now Mummius was so coarse that, when Corinth was taken and he was arranging for the paintings and sculptures finished by the hands of the greatest artists to be returned to Italy, he ordered the movers to be warned that if they broke them, they would have to make new ones!

But I do not suppose, Vinicius, that you would be reluctant to allow that it might have been better for the affairs of the state if we had remained ignorant of Corinthian statues to this day—instead of the statues being understood—and that the inexperience of that time was more conducive to public good than our present wisdom.”

Diversi imperatoribus mores, diversa fuere studia: quippe Scipio tam elegans liberalium studiorum omnisque doctrinae et auctor et admirator fuit, ut Polybium Panaetiumque, praecellentes ingenio viros, domi militiaeque secum habuerit. Neque enim quisquam hoc Scipione elegantius intervalla negotiorum otio dispunxit semperque aut belli aut pacis serviit artibus: semper inter arma ac studia versatus aut corpus periculis aut animum disciplinis exercuit. 4 Mummius tam rudis fuit, ut capta Corintho cum maximorum artificum perfectas manibus tabulas ac statuas in Italiam portandas locaret, iuberet praedici conducentibus, si eas perdidissent, novas eos reddituros. 5 Non tamen puto dubites, Vinici, quin magis pro re publica fuerit manere adhuc rudem Corinthiorum intellectum quam in tantum ea intellegi, et quin hac prudentia illa imprudentia decori publico fuerit convenientior.

In lieu of my clunky translation for the second paragraph above, Christopher Mackay (an actual Latinist!) has suggested the following translation: ““Nonetheless, you have no doubt, I imagine, Vinicius, that it was more in the public interest for our understanding to have still remained ignorant of Corinthian wares than for those things to have been understood to such a degree, and that the lack of expertise at that time was more beneficial to the national repute than today’s expertise is.”

[I find Velleius a bit dense and challenging to translate. But, alas, I am a Homerist, and parataxis has ruined me for Latin prose!]